OKLAHOMA CITY (June 28, 2018) – The Oklahoma State Board of Education today voted to restore a $5,000 bonus for nationally certified speech-language pathologists, audiologists and school psychologists after revenue for the annual incentive was cut for the last two years.
The bonus, which is dependent on state budget leaders’ approval of a $3.65 million transfer from the flexible benefit allowance, will benefit approximately 730 specialists. The bonus will go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.
“After a careful, exhaustive analysis of all available funds to the agency, we are able to make the much-needed stipend for these school specialists possible,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Speech-language pathologists, audiologists and school psychologists are in high demand in the private sector, and we need to keep these highly qualified professionals in our schools to ensure our children receive the services they need for successful learning.”
Hofmeister stressed that the transfer of funds is a one-time funding solution. To continue offering the bonus, which is set in state statute, she noted that a permanent restoration of funding cuts to the Support of Public School Activities budget is necessary. Reductions in funding to that line item in prior fiscal years included a $38 million cut, which resulted in the reduction or elimination of funding for 38 education programs.
In addition to the bonus, the State Board prioritized early learning and strengthening young readers through approval of the Support of Public School Activities budget for FY 2019. Other priority areas included support for a well-rounded education that includes arts education as well as expanded supports and training for educators and new teachers. At the board’s regular monthly meeting, officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) presented the FY 2019 budget as appropriated by the Legislature for Pre-K through 12th-grade public education.
Other programs that will continue to receive funding through the public school activities fund include the Oklahoma Arts Institute, Ag in the Classroom, Teach for America and high-need areas like alternative education, leadership training for educators and initiatives to combat the state’s ongoing teacher shortage.
For FY 2019, the public education funding formula received a $407 million increase over FY 2018 to fund teacher and support staff raises along with some additional funding for operations.